An Irish Winter Wonderland in Glendalough

It’s been snowing all week in Dublin. The city has melted most of it, but I knew there’d probably still be snow on the mountains. AA Roadwatch confirmed that even getting to the mountains would be dangerous: icy road conditions for all of County Wicklow, with a particular warning to stay away from Sally and Wicklow Gaps.

But it’s the weekend, and the sky is blue, and the wind is calm. I couldn’t resist but to see if I could get a mountain run in.

Glendalough Upper Lake and Valley from Miners' Track.
Glendalough Upper Lake and Valley from Miners' Track.

I arrived in Glendalough, snow piled high on the roadsides. Even the shy mountain goats had come off Derrybawn and were foraging for food on the main tourist trails.

Mountain Goats in Snowy Glendalough
Mountain Goats in Snowy Glendalough

Camaderry was wrapped in a white blanket. Foolishly, I tried to head on up it regardless, only to find the snow melting underneath the trees. The snow would slip, and with it the boggy ground underneath. With wet-pants on, I knew falling would mean sliding straight to the bottom at speed, something my life and limbs weren’t prepared to risk. (Maybe I should have read how to run on snow before heading).

Billy Goat Gruff in Glendalough!
Billy Goat Gruff in Glendalough!

I crawled back down to the forest’s edge, and decided instead to follow the lakeside up to the miners track. It mightn’t have been the fastest of runs, but it definitely was one of the most idyllic. I ran as far up the track as I could, before sinking foot-deep snow made running impossible. I turned around and saw Glendalough valley in all its winter beauty.

And then I remembered why I don’t just run. Rather, I mountain run. How could tarmac or city parks even try to compete with this mountainous, glorious terrain?

Derrybawn in Wicklow Winter Snow and Sun
Derrybawn in Wicklow Winter Snow and Sun

7 thoughts on “An Irish Winter Wonderland in Glendalough

  1. Thanks for all the input . Frank, I did see on the news last winter all the ice and snow in UK. Wales and Ireland particularly.
    Do you run in winter ?
    Can you give me ,in your opinion , some : ‘what to ‘s …’ About running in winter ?
    Thanks,appreciate it

  2. Thank you so much! Wow Phoenix Park sounds like a dream. Yes I am a regular runner )trails -!! This sounds like such a great place to run!
    Please if you don’t mind sharing some more info .
    My background:I come from south africa- so I run in shorts and a climacool T.
    Please give me an idea of what to get to run in for UK winters.
    I have been to the UK and EU in winter but never run, so if difficult for me to ‘imagine’ if I can put it this way, what to wear on a decent 15/20km run, that won’t “kill” me from over heating (if this even is possible) ?
    I would very much appreciate it !
    You are an absolute star , I am going to check out the other websites now .
    Thanks again,

    1. Ooohh, that’s a difficult one, advising what someone should wear. Well, if I was in the park, I’d wear 3/4 length lycra tights, a long sleeved top and a hat. If its raining, a gortex raincoat. To get a general idea, there’s some photos here of people mountain running in mid-winter, so you can get an idea of appropriate attire: . And if you need to pick anything up, I’d go to Runways… its about 3km from Phoenix Park: . Enjoy!

  3. I’m going to ireland (near dublin) for 6 weeks over winter 2010. Can u give me any training tips ..?I don’t want to veg / loose fitness .

    1. Hi Taryn, I don’t know if you’re a regular runner, but its still fine to run in Ireland during the winter. The weather can be a bit wild (wind / wet) but its not too cold (rarely below freezing) so all you really need to do is wrap up warm. The days are short though (light around 8am and dark around 4pm) so if you’re an outdoor runner, it may mean running in the dark.

      If you do go to Dublin, definitely go for a run in the Phoenix Park though – If you’re an orienteer, there are usually winter events on: and if a mountain runner, watch out for events and the forum for runs on:

      1. I do not know who told you the weather was rarely below freezing in Ireland!! Last winter we had over 100 days of frost in the Dublin area alone with temperatures as low as -16 in places. I live in west Dublin and we had two weeks of uniterrupted snow and ice and severe temperatures. The Wicklow mountains have frequent snowfall and certain passes can be cut off for weeks. The person who advise you differently is either not from Ireland or is lying to you. So be preapred!

      2. I did write that post in 2008 before the severe ‘winter of discontent’ last year, but its true that 2009/2010 was arctic condictions indeed. I remember sitting in Vietnam at the time, reading news reports and feeling very glad I was not in Ireland facing such weather.

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